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NEWS RELEASE: NDP Government Must Listen to Panel, Employers and Public and Protect the Secret Ballot: ICBA

BURNABY – A significant swath of associations representing B.C.’s job creators and employers – including the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) – called on the NDP government today to protect workers’ right to a secret ballot in unionization votes.

The 13 groups made the call in a 22-page submission to government, following up on the recommendations of the BC Labour Relations Code Review Panel.

“There is no more fundamental democratic value than the right to a secret ballot, and workers should have that right when they are deciding if they should join a union,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “The current system, which uses a secret ballot and was upheld by the NDP’s own review panel, ensures that neither employers nor unions can coerce workers one way or the other. Certification votes are fair and transparent and they are supervised by a neutral referee, the Labour Relations Board.”

Earlier this spring, 13 groups made a joint submission to the BC Labour Relations Code Review Panel, calling on government to protect the secret ballot, and several other labour code measures. The panel issued its draft report, which recommended keeping the secret ballot.

But the NDP’s allies in the traditional union hierarchy chafed against that recommendation, demanding more “consultation” with the government. Today’s submission from 13 business groups lays out the other side of the story on the labour code.

“In construction, only a small portion of workers – less than 15 per cent – have decided to affiliate themselves with traditional building trades unions. The rest are organized by progressive unions, employee associations or are open shop,” said Gardner. “The NDP and their traditional union allies have been desperate to stop this evolution by forcing workers to join their 19 favoured unions on taxpayer-funded construction projects like the Pattullo Bridge, and by stripping their democratic right to a secret ballot.”

Polling done for one media outlet shows that 79% of British Columbians support the secret ballot. Even among households with a private sector union member living in it, nearly three-quarters support secret ballots.

“The public knows that forcing unionization and stripping the democratic right to a secret ballot is wrong and unfair,” said Gardner. “It’s time for the NDP government to abandon this outdated approach to labour relations and protect this basic worker right.”

The joint submission was filed yesterday, and was signed by ICBA as well as the BC Chamber of Commerce, BC Hotels Association, BC Trucking Association, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Franchise Association, Canadian Home Builders Association, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Restaurants Canada, Retail Council of Canada, Urban Development Institute, and Vancouver Regional Construction Association. Read the full submission HERE.

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About the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association

ICBA represents more than 2,100 members and clients in construction and responsible resource development and is one of the leading third-party providers of group health and retirement benefits in B.C. ICBA trains more than 3,500 workers every year and is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in the province.

ICBA CEO Breakfast at BUILDEX Vancouver, Feb. 13, 2019


You’re invited to our ICBA CEO Breakfast, kicking off the 2019 BUILDEX construction trade show at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Wednesday morning, Feb. 13, 2019.

  • Date/Time: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 (8:00am–9:30am)
  • Location: Vancouver Convention Centre West
  • Speaker: Brett Wilson
  • Cost: Free!

Join us to hear keynote speaker Brett Wilson, Dragon Emeritus, Celebrated Entrepreneur and Respected Philanthropist.

Energy and Construction: Canada’s Economic Backbone

Dragon’s Den entrepreneur W. Brett Wilson makes his BUILDEX debut with his take-no-prisoners support for Canadian energy and construction. Wilson, a prominent investor in sectors ranging from energy to agriculture, is concerned for Canada’s economic future, as more and more interests from the United States creep north. Canada has so much potential as a nation – it just needs vision and leadership to harness it all.

ICBA President Chris Gardner will also release the results of our 2019 Wage and Benefits Survey, which gives insight into which trades are most in demand, what companies are paying workers, and how construction businesses are feeling about the state of the economy.

This breakfast is free-of-charge, and attendees get access to the BUILDEX trade show immediately following. To reserve your seat, click HERE and use the form password DRAGON (all caps).


TRAINING THURSDAY: Supervisors Bootcamp

We’re finishing up the year strong with another session of the Supervisors Bootcamp – Practical Leadership Tools for Front Line Supervisors in Burnaby on December 17!

The course is designed for front-line supervisors and managers in all industries (not just construction!) Participants will be given a leadership “tool kit” as well as self-assessment questionnaires and exercises based on the actual work they do and the people they lead.

The ideas covered in this course will assist employers to tackle important and emerging issues facing business operations today, including:

  • Greater productivity and quality outcomes
  • Greater safety program effectiveness
  • Greater worker retention and engagement

You’ll also earn 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7.5 Group B CPD Points from BC Housing! Register for this or any of our other upcoming courses at If you miss this course, we are offering it again in Burnaby on February 12, 2019.

And don’t forget, you don’t have to be a member of ICBA to take our courses. Everyone is welcome!

ICBA’s 2018 Safety Merits Contest

Workplace Safety is a team effort – and ICBA is again going to award one team member with a three-day holiday in Las Vegas in recognition of their safe work practices!

The submission deadline for ICBA’s annual Safety Merits Contest is noon Pacific, Wednesday, December 19, 2018. Don’t miss your chance to submit the names of your company’s safest workers. 

Entrants must be employed below the superintendent level (office staff are not eligible) and must have worked a minimum of 2,500 hours without any time lost due to an accident.

The construction industry recognizes that a safe workplace is the responsibility of management and of the workers on site. The industry realizes that those individuals who have taken great care to avoid injury to themselves and others are invaluable to their firm and an example for all workers.

The purpose of the Safety Merits Contest is for the industry to recognize these individuals, draw attention to their achievement and encourage others to follow their example.


1) All entrants must be employed by an ICBA member company.

2) Entrants must be employed below the superintendent level. Office staff are not eligible.

3) Entrants must have worked a minimum of 2,500 hours for one employer without any time lost due to an accident as of November 15, 2018. Proof of hours may have to be submitted and verified. Note: The required hours need not have been worked consecutively with that one firm.

4) Names of those who meet the above criteria are to be submitted to the ICBA office by the employer to (Excel spreadsheet preferred) no later than noon Pacific time, Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

5) Names of employees submitted in previous Safety Merits Contests may be submitted again.

6) One name will be drawn at random.

PRIZE: A 3-day trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Return airfare to Las Vegas, hotel accommodations, and transportation from Las Vegas airport to the hotel. (Maximum value $1500, including taxes.)

BC Construction Monitor: The BC Economy – It Starts With What Gets Built

Every morning, nearly 250,000 British Columbians get up and head to work in the construction industry, and their work accounts for nearly a tenth of the entire B.C. economy. This is an ICBA President under-recognized reality in British Columbia, and one that we point out to stakeholders at every opportunity.

Too often, construction somehow fades into the backdrop, with other sectors – from energy and natural resources, to high tech and tourism – enjoying a higher profile and greater cachet.

In fact, building structures and infrastructure is the foundational activity in any economy. And in B.C., with an ongoing influx of new residents and various major industrial and infrastructure projects needing to be built, construction plays an even larger role.

Construction is a key indicator of overall economic health, since it is one of the first activities to shrink when uncertainty takes hold. It is a massive generator of investment and jobs in its own right – so much so that contractors are having growing difficulty finding enough skilled workers. Construction in turn drives large spin-off benefits in every community across the province.

We take stock in this Monitor of construction’s true economic impact, strength and importance in B.C. The numbers underscore the reality that when ICBA advocates for a strong construction sector, we’ve got the best interests of British Columbia and our long-term prosperity very much at heart.

GDP and employment figures are 2018 forecasts (Central 1 Credit Union), weekly wage rates are as of September 2018 (BC Stats).

Read more

CONSTRUCTION MONITOR: BC’s Economic Health Starts with Construction

Check out our latest CONSTRUCTION MONITOR here

Every morning, nearly 250,000 British Columbians get up and head to work in the construction industry, and their work accounts for nearly a tenth of the entire B.C. economy. This is an under-recognized reality in British Columbia, and one that we point out to stakeholders at every opportunity.

Too often, construction somehow fades into the backdrop, with other sectors – from energy and natural resources, to high tech and tourism – enjoying a higher profile and greater cachet.

In fact, building structures and infrastructure is the foundational activity in any economy. And in B.C., with an ongoing influx of new residents and various major industrial and infrastructure projects needing to be built, construction plays an even larger role.

Construction is a key indicator of overall economic health, since it is one of the first activities to shrink when uncertainty takes hold. It is a massive generator of investment and jobs in its own right – so much so that contractors are having growing difficulty finding enough skilled workers. Construction in turn drives large spin- off benefits in every community across the province.

We take stock in this Monitor of construction’s true economic impact, strength and importance in B.C. The numbers underscore the reality that when ICBA advocates for a strong construction sector, we’ve got the best interests of British Columbia and our long-term prosperity very much at heart.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Providing Exceptional Customer Service

In today’s competitive market, how do you differentiate you and your organization from others? How do you ensure that you’re adding value? Our Providing Exceptional Customer Service workshop will help you develop crucial customer service skills to build strong relationships with your clients, whether one-on-one or with a group.

You’ll also learn how to engage with the customer, and how to proactively recommend additional products and services to your client, as part of the overall service you provide.

In this seminar, you’ll learn to:

  • Develop your customer engagement and experience strategy
  • Apply effective listening skills
  • Draw out what your clients really need, and how to add value
  • Work with difficult and demanding customers
  • Build strong and lasting relationships with potential and existing clients

Through a series of hands-on workshops, you’ll build your confidence and competitive advantage to provide exceptional customer service for existing and future customers. And, earn 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing!

Our next session is in Burnaby on December 6. Then, we’re bringing it to Victoria on March 5. It’s never too early to start planning for 2019!

Register for this or any of our upcoming courses at

TRAINING THURSDAY: Lean for Construction – A Practical Approach

We constantly strive to keep our course offerings up to date and relevant to the industry, so we add new courses to our calendar several times a year! Our latest new workshop is Lean for Construction – A Practical Approach. We want to help you reduce costs, improve lead times, and foster collaboration by introducing key Lean concepts and how they can applied on a daily basis.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

A practical, jargon-free approach to Lean
Implement a culture of problem solving in 4 simple steps:

  • Define value from your customer’s perspective
  • Capture the current state: visually capture all activities required to bring the project from initiation to completion
    • The importance of value-adding work
    • How to capture the 8 types of waste 
  • Develop the plan: prioritize wastes for elimination
  • Improve using Plan, Do, Check, Act: design and implement effective solutions

The resulting impact on costs, lead-time, quality, and culture 

The importance of team work and collaboration


This course is taking place in Burnaby on December 12; you’ll also earn 7.5 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing and 1 Gold Seal Credit! Register at